Shirin Gerami: Racing IRONMAN Kona for all Iranian Women

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Triathletes are often asked why.  Why do you train for all three of these activities and feel compelled to do them back to back to back. Why isn’t one discipline enough?  The answers vary and are many.  Triathletes that compete in any distance are asked WHY?, but especially those who go for that long, full Ironman distance.  As we have shared the stories of our Colorado Athletes in Kona these past few weeks, there have been many amazing and inspiring stories of WHY.

 

Several months ago I stumbled across Nicole DeBoom’s podcast, Run This World.  Nicole won IM Wisconsin in 2004,  is the founder of Skirt Sports in Boulder as well as Running Start a non-profit organization with a mission to provide Beginner runners the confidence, courage and community support they need to change their lives through running .

 

The Run This World episode I listened to, Finding the Light in Everything,  was an interview with a young woman by the name of Shirin Gerami.  Shirin “Shiz” is Iranian.

 

When Shiz was a young girl, her family moved from Iran.  They lived in several places and in the end, Shiz ended up at university in the UK.  Prior to reaching  university, she had done a little running/jogging and swimming.  At school, she was intrigued by the triathlon club offering  and joined.  The following year, she actually went to a workout.   And while on some level she enjoyed the training sessions and saw progress, it was really the friends she made and the community that kept her going back.

 

In 2013, the university tri club members were discussing the upcoming ITU World Championship race in London.  Commenting on the many countries their club could represent.  Shiz began wondering what it would take to represent  Iran at the upcoming race.  Initial research showed it would be a difficult road with obstacles at every turn.  Today, Iran has very strict women coverage rules.  But this hasn’t always been the case.  Historically, wearing a veil or hijab, in the presence of men was a status symbol.  But, since Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979, women living in the country have been forced to wear a hijab, a head covering scarf.

 

While the Iranian officials never really told her outright that she could not compete and represent Iran, they were unyielding in the requirements for her race kit. In working with the company that produced some men’s sportswear, in the final hours she was able to get kit approval.  However, it wasn’t until 9pm on race day eve that she was granted permission from the Iranian ministry to race as an official Iranian representative.

 

When I asked Shiz about shiz-harvest-moonher WHY and the importance of being able to represent Iranian women she said, ” By living and training in an environment  where having a coach, and being able to have access to quality training equipment and facilities is often taken for granted, it’s important to fight for that same privilege for women in countries where  none of that is available or even an option.”

 

When I spoke to Shiz in Boulder last week, where she has spent the past two months training for this Saturday’s race in Kona, she was waiting on the arrival of her custom race kit as well as the approval of the Iranian ministry to officially race as an Iranian athlete.  If approval comes through, she will be the only Iranian athlete to have ever competed in Kona.

 

We are looking forward to being part of Shiz’ cheering section during her first IRONMAN distance race here in Kona on Saturday.

 

Watch for her post race comments.

Iranian Women in Sport Blog

IRONMAN Humanitarian Athletes post

 

One thought on “Shirin Gerami: Racing IRONMAN Kona for all Iranian Women

  1. It’s a victory of sorts for Shiz but what kind? She was given her freedom to become a triathlete in the UK not in Iran. Her rights as a women in the UK are what she should be celebrating not the oppression of women that is seen all over Iran. She tries to mask her religious belief system behind the wall of Iranian Theocracy but really she is promoting the endlessly dogmatic reality of Islam and it’s invisible hand that seems to control women no matter where they go. You can take the Muslim out of Iran but you can’t take the Muslim out of the Iranian.

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